How Are Adwords Duplicate Keyword Matches Handled?

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  • PPC/SEM
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In same cases there may be accounts that have keyword overlap. For example, you might have a campaign where the geographic targeting in the user's location only and another campaign that is the same geographic location but it is user intent only. If the location is Seattle, it is obvious that a search for a matching keyword with also the word Seattle in it will trigger the location intent targeted campaign keyword. However as I understand it, location intent matches do not necessarily require the location name to be in the search. For example I've seen at least one instance where the keyword was matched without location name on a location intent campaign and was able to trace it to the click-thru coming from the ad being displayed on Yelp when the yelp user had the Yelp location set to Seattle. So they didn't have to enter "italian restaurant seattle" all they had to do was enter "italian restaurant"

But it can be further informative for the advertiser to compare in a location intent campaign keywords that definitely had the location name in it versus keywords that matched some other way. So in that location intent campaign you make have the keywords [italian restaurant] and [italian restaurant seattle]

In the user location campaign you also may have the same two keywords. This would cause a match for someone in the georgraphic location to search for "italian restaurant seattle"

Does anyone know what really happens in that case? If the does geographic area trump intent or vice versa or does google treat the two matches as two separate entries into the auction? If the latter case is true, would that mean that you would essentially be causing your campaigns to compete against each other in the auction so let's say the location auction keyword had a Quality Score of 10 with a bid of $10.00 which was good enough to win position #1 in the auction and the intent target campaign keyword had a Quality Score of 5 and a bid of $30.00 which also was good enough for position #1. In that case if the $30 max bid keyword beat out the $10 max bid keyword from the same account, for the same keyword, would you end up then paying a higher CPC than you need to for the same position due to the keywords competing against each other from the same account but different campaigns? Or, would Google let the keyword with the lowest CPC that still gets it position #1 win? (The latter would be less financially beneficial to Google obviously)

I should not this could also happen within the same campaign with duplicate keywords in different ad groups. How does Google handle it?
#adwords #duplicate #handled #keyword #matches
  • It is bad practice to build a campaign with the same keywords (the phrase and match type) being repeated in different groups and campaigns. It is not very logical, unless campaigns are targeting different geographical areas. It also makes things harder to manage and may lead to unexpected results.

    But stuff happens and sometimes you do have that situation, even inadvertently. So what does Google do?

    Initially, the software probably treats each as two separate entries in the auction. During one of its many following steps, it would remove one or the other (or however many it would need to remove). You cannot have two ads shown in an auction that land on the same domain.

    The same rules would apply to rank each entry into the auction. That is, a large portion is determined on QS and bid. But that's not the only way the system ranks ads. Yes, it starts that way and to simplify understanding and not overly complicate things, we say ads are ranked by multiplying QS and bid. But there's more to it than that.

    First, your QS is not a whole number. It is shown as such to you but in reality, the real QS calculated has many decimal places. Thus, in your example, there is always one that is better, even if infinitesimally so. That means ranking is too.

    Next, the system does not always rank ads the same way. It does not make sense to rank each auction the same way every time, even if the basic ad ranking formula determines so. There is something called result freshness and diversity. So in effect, it switches things around just to see what happens. So if you have the same two keywords in the auction, both have as much chance (given they have identical ad ranks) as being chosen as not.

    I don't work at Google and don't really know. But I do have a database background and thought about how I would design such a system. Google has offered small hints too so I think I'm probably very close to how it works.

    By the way, what you would pay in your scenario, as with every auction, depends who your next competitor is. Google has published and given a big hint how they calculate the CPC. To rank ads, one of their calculations is showing ads that would maximize revenues. So your $10 bid keyword may produce more revenues than the $30 one simply because, as its QS is higher, meaning its CTR is higher as well, it makes more money in the long run. When you think about it, QS trumps pretty much everything.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      I have been told by AdWords engineers and also by Fred Vallaeys whom helped to build the AdWords system, that AdWords always selects the keyword with the highest Ad Rank score.

      Also, Fred and other AdWords engineers have mentioned that the actual Quality Score used to calculate you Ad Rank is done at query time, and they do not use the stored Quality Score that is displayed in your reports, the reported QS is based on an average of your recent queries, in other words it is a historical average, not your actual QS that will be used for the next search query.

      In addition to Quality Score and Bid, they now also use expected impact of ad extensions on CTR as a factor.in your Ad Rank Score. This allows AdWords to serve up different versions of your ad to try to algorithmically improve CTR. So QS is dynamically adjusted, ad extensions are dynamically added and you ad rank score is based on all those things that might effect your CTR.
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  • Profile picture of the author consultant1027
    I've seen in more than one place a reference to duplicate keywords being bad as they produce "unexpected results." Well, unexpected doesn't say whether they result was positive or negative! LOL.

    In fact, I found this document which makes an exteremly important point.

    https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2756257?hl=en

    It says as far as the auction process,

    Exception: "There is a cheaper keyword with a higher Ad Rank"

    So you can rest assured if you do have duplicate keywords, Google will use the cheapest one with the highest Ad Rank. To me, the only real concern with dupes is that you push your CPC up by competing against yourself. As long as Google is using the keyword with the highest Ad Rank that is the cheapest in my account, I'm happy. In essense, Ad Rank is essentially primarily a predictor of the future revenue generated from that keyword (primarily a prediction of CTR times CPC).
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Originally Posted by consultant1027 View Post

      I've seen in more than one place a reference to duplicate keywords being bad as they produce "unexpected results." Well, unexpected doesn't say whether they result was positive or negative! LOL.

      In fact, I found this document which makes an exteremly important point.

      https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2756257?hl=en

      It says as far as the auction process,

      Exception: "There is a cheaper keyword with a higher Ad Rank"

      So you can rest assured if you do have duplicate keywords, Google will use the cheapest one with the highest Ad Rank. To me, the only real concern with dupes is that you push your CPC up by competing against yourself. As long as Google is using the keyword with the highest Ad Rank that is the cheapest in my account, I'm happy. In essense, Ad Rank is essentially primarily a predictor of the future revenue generated from that keyword (primarily a prediction of CTR times CPC).
      Hi consultant1027,

      The most important thing you should know is that there are some circumstances where duplicate keywords will drive your costs higher, unnecessarily.

      I'm not talking about using the same keyword with different match types, though I have seen that be an issue under certain circumstances. I'm talking about using the same keyword and same match type, particularly when included in multiple ad groups. In that case you are absolutely competing against yourself. But don't take my word for it, you can test it to prove it to yourself.

      Try this as an experiment. Take an exact match keyword that currently averages ad position 1 on a consistent basis, to remove influence from competitors. Then create a duplicate ad group, same ads, same keyword. Now double the bid for that exact match keyword within the duplicate ad group and watch what happens to your average CPC. Adwords isn't going to display the cheapest ad, they will display the ad with the highest ad rank score, which means you are going to see a significant increase in your CPC. That will be all the proof you need to realize that you are indeed competing with yourself.
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  • Unexpected results are typically negative, rarely positive. I remember years ago someone adding to a campaign, I think it was a negative keyword, everywhere thinking it was a good idea. The result was that impressions went from hundreds per day to nothing. They did so without really thinking and the campaign ground to a halt.

    I said earlier that QS trumps everything. What I should have said is that ad rank trumps everything, at least most times. I think that is more accurate. That does not mean that it is the cheaper keyword however.

    Having dupes does not mean you are "competing" against yourself. We've established that the algo will attempt to maximize the profitability of an auction. So it's not competing against yourself. Your CPC will not go up because of it since that is dependent on competitors, their own ad rank.

    But I do recommend against duplicates. It's good practice, makes it easier on yourself and makes it easier on the algo.
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  • Don, I disagree that CPC would go up. I assume you mean on the new group with higher bid. The published CPC calculation says you'd pay the same. Of course, we have to assume the same QS in both groups and the same competitor in second position, also with the same QS and bid. All this is in a perfect world scenario. But no need for a perfect world, the formula, at least the basic of what we know of it, shows that CPC would be the same.

    The ads in the second group would be shown more often since its ad rank is higher. The CPC would be significantly higher if the QS was significantly lower than the original group.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Originally Posted by LucidWebMarketing View Post

      Don, I disagree that CPC would go up. I assume you mean on the new group with higher bid. The published CPC calculation says you'd pay the same. Of course, we have to assume the same QS in both groups and the same competitor in second position, also with the same QS and bid. All this is in a perfect world scenario. But no need for a perfect world, the formula, at least the basic of what we know of it, shows that CPC would be the same.

      The ads in the second group would be shown more often since its ad rank is higher. The CPC would be significantly higher if the QS was significantly lower than the original group.
      You may be right, it might be due to the fact that AdWords resets your Quality Scores to 6 when you create new ad groups.

      Or it could be due to other factors, I will do some more testing to see if I can isolate the factors and validate the results.
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    • Profile picture of the author consultant1027
      Originally Posted by LucidWebMarketing View Post

      Don, I disagree that CPC would go up. I assume you mean on the new group with higher bid. The published CPC calculation says you'd pay the same. Of course, we have to assume the same QS in both groups and the same competitor in second position, also with the same QS and bid. All this is in a perfect world scenario. But no need for a perfect world, the formula, at least the basic of what we know of it, shows that CPC would be the same.

      The ads in the second group would be shown more often since its ad rank is higher. The CPC would be significantly higher if the QS was significantly lower than the original group.
      I think Don might actually be right if your max CPC for the duplicate keywords is not identical. If all other things are equal, the keyword with the highest max CPC is going to win.

      So here's my takeaway, use the Adwords editor and search for duplicate keywords and just make sure the max CPC is the same. That way, the keyword with the highest ad rank wins.
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  • It all goes back to my original point. You generally wouldn't have duplicate keywords on purpose. What would be the point?

    If you used the same ads, there's no point. If you have different ads there's no point. You could do it in the original group.

    The only reason would be in different campaigns with different settings, mainly the geography. I've seen people try this but then go and use the exact same ads. No purpose whatsoever if you do that. They say they want the city in the ad. I can see that (although it may be best to use location extensions) but a lot are national campaigns with one location so this approach would be best if you have different locations.

    What I would do is ensure I don't have duplication of keywords for a campaign. No need to think about anything (is this a dupe? which has higher CPC?) and making more work for yourself.
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